Alabama political science experts: COVID vaccine mandate is constitutional


By WVUA 23 reporter Michaela Redmond

The University of Alabama’s Department of Political Science hosted a discussion on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 action plan on Friday, September 17.

Biden’s plan pushes for two-thirds of Americans to be fully immunized and includes the requirement that all employers with more than 100 employees require proof of vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing.

In addition, all staff in hospitals, home health care and other medical facilities, as well as all government and government contract employees should be immunized.

Associate professor of political science Allen Linken said the mandate is to do what is reasonable.

“Think about throwing a net in a river and trying to catch a specific type of fish,” Linken said. “You can have algae, you can have fish, you can have another type of fish, you can have a clam, and you can have a diver stuck in the water. If you catch the fish you are looking for, it is not irrational and it is not unreasonable.

Alabama is one of several Republican-led states that reject the proposed mandate, Linken said.

Associate professor of political science Joseph Smith said public safety trumps all protections given in the constitution.

“There is no general constitutional right to avoid vaccination against the threat to public health,” Smith said, citing Jacobson v. public safety.

The case at the time debated a vaccine against smallpox, a disease that was largely eradicated due to the widespread need for vaccines.

“Immunization requirements are and exercise the policing powers of the government, the power to preserve the health and welfare of the public,” Smith said.

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